I received the Mystery Ranch ASAP from a good friend to test out. Since it wasn’t my pack to keep I wasn’t able to make any permanent modifications to it… which is something that will be touched on later. I used the pack for three weeks and I think I was able to get a good sense of it in terms of my likes and dislikes.
Mystery Ranch ASAP Review
I used the Mystery Ranch ASAP as my daily pack for three weeks (between 3/1/2015 and 3/21/2015). I did not use this pack for any events or trips however it did accompany me to work every day. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this pack it does need to be configured before use. The Mystery Ranch website has a few videos on how to do this and it’s pretty easy… I was able to do it in twenty minutes.
This pack is quality. There’s no way around it… when you put it on (or even touch it) you can feel that it’s made of great materials. The sewing is on-point and everything feels like it will outlive you. There’s a good chance you’ll be dead before this pack is.
Just look at all of the sewing in the above picture and find an imperfection. All I can say is good luck… you’ll need it. I love to see when companies use experienced sewers. If I have to trim off extra thread then that always feels like it cheapens the experience.
The pack is incredibly sturdy and, due to the frame sheet system, sits incredibly well. When you put this on (and it’s configured correctly) you feel like you could carry any amount of weight no problem.
The “special” Mystery Ranch system utilizes what they call the tri-zip opening. This means that you can open the pack up completely or just open the top to drop stuff into it.
While this is a great idea in theory it did get a little tiresome having to take two steps to fully open the pack. To get to the above stage you have to pull the top back (step 1) which unzips the two top zippers then pull the main zipper down (step 2). I’d imagine that if I spent more than three weeks with the bag I’d get used to this system but after three weeks it still felt foreign to me.
There are two interior bag pockets on this pack (one on each side) that you’re able to store either a water bladder or other smallish objects in. While they’re nice for keeping things separate they can, unfortunately, make it difficult for you to put larger items in the bag. For example, whenever I would try and put my laptop in the pack it would more often than not get caught on one of these side pockets.
There’s a nice label inside the pack which shows where the pack was sewn, when it was made, and verification that all pieces checked off. It’s a nice touch and definitely gives the pack some personality.
The outside of the ASAP features enough webbing to attach almost any small pouch to. You should notice that the largest area sports three columns which means most four column admin pouches (like the TAD OP1) will not fit.
Moving to the bottom of the pack you’ll find one row of webbing. This row is used for the Mystery Ranch Stick-It accessory but could probably come in handy for other reasons. I bet that if you used some webbing you could create an easy loop for a sleeping bag roll or something similar.
There’s a nice square of Velcro at the top of the pack for patches. This is directly over the top opening which is honestly nice to see. It’s not staring people right in the face which makes it seem less over-the-top.
Right behind the patch area is a top pocket which is great for things you want to reach quickly. Since there are no small internal pockets you’ll want to store anything you need at an arms reach here.
There’s a zippered pocket within this zippered pocket so it adds another level to organize items.
Right behind the top pocket is another zipper which gives access to the main compartment. The two uses for this are to either drop items into your pack quickly or feed a hydration hose out. It doesn’t open enough to get more than a hand in there but that’s fine… it serves its purpose well.
The pack comes with a sternum strap which is always a plus. I mean if you’re going to be carrying weight with this you’ll want one. The only disadvantage is if you break it they’re in the $20 market for a spare off the Mystery Ranch site.
In addition to the sternum strap there is also a waist strap if you end up needing one. I never carried enough weight to warrant so thankfully it could be tucked away.
You’ll notice these little grab areas all over the pack wherever a zipper is present. These are so necessary and I’m glad that they’re present. Because of the direction of the zippers you almost always need to grab one of these when using them.
The one nice aspect of having slightly difficult to operate zippers is that they won’t unzip on their own. Not once did I find this pack open on its own which is always a major plus.
The first logo on the pack is right below the Velcro area and the second logo is shown above on the shoulder strap. There are more logos on this than the GORUCK and Triple Aught Design packs but I’m glad that they’re not all over or distracting.
I absolutely love that there’s a built-in pocket for the waist strap. 99% of the time you don’t need a waist strap for daily use so the ability to hide it is crucial and I’m glad Mystery Ranch realized that.
The ability to adjust the pack is incredible and really allows you to customize it to your needs.
I feel like a broken record but I just can’t get past these internal pockets. There’s no way to close them (without a modification) and they snag my laptop nearly every time I put it in there. Being a software developer I rarely go anywhere without a laptop which is infuriating. I understand if you were using this for hiking or a day trip you might not need your laptop (thus this wouldn’t be an issue) but for an EDC review I can’t let it slide.
At $245 – $282 this is not a cheap pack. However, it is made in the USA, comes with an awesome frame, and is made of very high quality materials. It costs about the same as a GORUCK GR0 or a Triple Aught Design Litespeed so, in my opinion, it’s priced fairly.
Now I wasn’t able to make any modifications on the pack (because it’s not mine) but I definitely had an idea for this pack. If given the chance I would have done something to those internal pockets immediately. It’s tough even looking at pictures of them…
I don’t know if it would have been Velcro to keep them closed or something else but the way they are now did not work well for my laptop. More times than not when putting my laptop into the ASAP it would get caught on one (or both) of the pockets. Once caught I’d need to stick my hand in and push the pockets to the side to allow the laptop to go in smoothly. Now this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but having to do this 4 – 6 times per day every day can get old quick.
Mystery Ranch ASAP (EDC Use)
- Spot on sewing and stitching
- Lots of MOLLE for external pockets
- Amazing frame sheet
- Made in the USA
- Tri-Zip can be a pain
- Inside pockets snag large items
Used For: Every Day Carry (EDC)
Tested For: One Month
Conclusion: Great pack however something needs to be done about the internal pockets.